Republican and Democrat state senators are applauding the state Senate’s unanimous passage of a bill to enhance oversight of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Senate Bill No. 894, passed in the early morning hours of May 18, will establish a State Oversight Council on Children and Families to independently monitor and analyze DCF operations and make recommendations to the agency and legislature for improvements to the state’s child welfare programs.
“There is no greater obligation of state government than to protect our most vulnerable citizens from harm. That includes children under the care of the Department of Children and Families,” said Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven), who proposed legislation to establish an independent council this year. “Sadly, in recent years our state has struggled to meet the needs of many children. We can and must do better than this. This new council is an important step forward to allow for the legislature and stakeholders to work in a collaborative way to improve child safety. I thank Senator Len Suzio and Senator Marilyn Moore for their strong leadership on this legislation. I applaud the Senate for working in a bipartisan manner to pass this bill with unanimous support.”
“The state must do more to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children in our care,” said Senator Len Suzio (R-Meriden), Co-Chair of the Committee on Children who provided amended language for the bill alongside Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport), Co-chair of the Committee on Children. “Creating an independent council made up of experts from many different backgrounds is a key step to ensure proper oversight and evaluations are in place. I want to thank Sen. Moore her passionate advocacy on behalf of Connecticut’s children and for reaching across the aisle to move this imperative bill forward. This bill represents a united bipartisan effort to do what is right for Connecticut’s children.”
“It’s important to have legislative structures in place as Connecticut moves closer to compliance with the Juan F. consent decree,” said Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport), Co-chair of the Committee on Children. “Our ability to protect and provide for the most vulnerable children in our state will be strengthened with an independent oversight council comprised of members with diverse and multi-disciplinary backgrounds.”
The new council will replace the State Advisory Council on Children and Families with an independent council that has statutory authority to monitor, track and evaluate DCF and effectuate changes. The new council will include appointees of the legislative branch and child advocates. It will have the ability to submit recommended policy changes to the legislature to improve safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children and youths.
The council will be required to submit an annual report to the legislature that provides information on agency policies, practices and the impact of current policies on children and outcomes. The council can also include legislative recommendations to improve state supports for the most vulnerable children in their annual report.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives where it must be voted on before the end of the legislative session on June 7 in order to become law.